Monday, June 30, 2014
THE DUST HAS SETTLED!
Weekly Opinion Editorial
THE DUST HAS SETTLED!
by Steve Fair
The dust has settled after last Tuesday’s primary election. The voters have spoken and with the exception of a few run-offs GOP voters in Oklahoma selected the nominees for the general election November 4th. In the aftermath of an election, there is no shortage of self proclaimed political experts who dissect the election and offer their analysis of the who, what and why. I am no different- here are my observations:
The voter turnout in the primary was shameful. Only about 25% of those eligible bothered to vote. 31.2% of Republicans voted- 18.9% of Democrats. The races on the GOP side were certainly more exciting, but regardless of your Party affiliation, you should show up to vote. As George Allen said, “The world is run by those who show up.”
All candidates, whether they won or lost, deserve our admiration and respect. It takes courage to sign up to run for office. Many of them spent their time, talent and treasure to run and fall short. That doesn’t mean they are losers- it only means they lost. Giving the citizens a choice is important. Having candidates in a race that raise the level of dialogue to one of issues is critical if we are to be effectively self governed. Incumbents often say, “it’s my seat,” but it’s not. The seat belongs to the people and sometimes it takes a challenge to jar an incumbent back into the proper mindset.
The U.S. Senate race in Oklahoma never got that negative. If you want to see negative, there were several races across the country where personal attacks on opponents were relentless and brutal. To be sure, there were some ads that ‘caricatured’ a candidate’s stance, but for the most part the race was conducted in a civil manner. To be clear, pointing out how a person voted is not ‘going negative.’ The public has a right to know and a candidate should be willing to defend their voting record. Negative campaigning is when attacks are personal in nature and irrelevant to the race. Often its not the voting record that becomes the focus of an ad, but the ‘spin’ on the voting record. It’s the job of the voting public to sift through the rhetoric and find the truth.
T.W. Shannon has a bright political future. Shannon is a fine young man with strong convictions. If T.W. chooses to return to the political arena in two years, he will do well. He is intelligent, articulate, and principled. His concession speech was done with class and humility. I don’t know what his plans are, but I doubt the voters of Oklahoma have heard the last of T.W. Shannon.
Common core was Janet Barresi’s downfall. The incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction finished third in a three person race. In recent memory, no incumbent has ever been defeated by this wide of margin. To her credit, Janet Barresi has courage. She struck by her decision on Common Core well after it was apparent it was not popular with the GOP base. We should always admire elected officials who are willing to take a stand, even when they disagree with us. Barresi attempted to get back into the good graces of the GOP primary voters when it became apparent she was in jeopardy of losing, but it was too late. Opposition to Common Core is in the platforms of the Republican Party at both the state and national level. The results of the Superintendent’s race just goes to show you the ‘folks’ pay attention.
The Oklahoma Democrat Party is in trouble. Nearly 100,000 more Republicans showed up to vote in the statewide primary than Democrats. Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate in four statewide races. A perennial candidate who never campaigns- Jim Rogers- is in a run-off with State Senator Connie Johnson for the Democrat nomination for U.S. Senate. Not only are Democrats not showing up to vote, they are obviously uninformed when they get there. Johnson is a viable candidate- Rogers is not. For there to be a run-off in that race sadly defines the state of the Oklahoma Democrat Party- disarray.The statewide run-off is on Tuesday August 26th. Republicans do not have a statewide race in the run-off, Democrats have two. Steve Russell and Patrice Douglas will square off in the 5th Congressional district run-off for the GOP nomination. Check with your local county election board for primary run-off races in your precinct.